UNGA 2020: Zimbabwe leader tells UN that sanctions hurt development

President Emmerson Mnangagwa says sanctions are breach of international law

In this UNTV image, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe, speaks in a pre-recorded video message during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, at UN headquarters. The U.N.'s first virtual meeting of world leaders started Tuesday with pre-recorded speeches from heads-of-state, kept at home by the coronavirus pandemic. (UNTV via AP)
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Zimbabwe's leader has appealed at the UN for support to end western sanctions.

In an address to the UN General Assembly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said sanctions were setting back its development goals set in line with the world body.

Mr Mnangagwa referred to a recent UN report that found a negative impact from sanctions on Zimbabwe as a whole.

"These are a breach of international law and compromise Zimbabwe's capacity to implement and achieve Sustainable Development Goals," including eradication of hunger, he said.

"We therefore call on the General Assembly to strongly pronounce itself against these unilateral illegal sanctions."

Zimbabwe has faced western sanctions since the early 2000s but they have been focused primarily on the leaders, accusing them of corruption and gross mismanagement of an economy with large inflation rates.

Last year a report by the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, said that sanctions contributed to a poor climate for business and investment.

"These economic sanctions worsen the existing inequalities and do not have any actual impact on their supposed targets," Ms Elver wrote in the report, which found that 60 per cent of Zimbabweans had insecure food supplies.

Mr Mnangagwa took over in 2017 after the removal of veteran leader Robert Mugabe.